With the passing of former Cuban president Fidel Castro over the weekend, the decades-long U.S. war waged against him finally comes to an end, even if the decades-long embargo against the Cuban people continues.
Castro was one of the most tyrannical dictators in the world. After taking power in 1959, he refused to permit democratic elections, suppressed dissent, censored the news, and controlled travel. And, of course, Castro was a communist or socialist. As president, he imposed a socialist economic system on the island, which entailed the nationalization of all private property. Most everyone became an employee of the state.
But that begs an important question, one that the U.S. mainstream media is loath to ask: Under what moral or legal authority did U.S. officials repeatedly try to murder Castro, and under what moral or legal authority did they try to effect regime change in Cuba?
Most of the mainstream media accounts of Castro’s life mention that the CIA tried to assassinate Castro hundreds of times. They also remind people of the U.S. invasion at the Bay of Pigs.
What they don’t do, however, is question the moral or legal authority to do these things. The mainstream media mindset is one that holds that Castro was bad and the U.S. national-security state is good and, therefore, all the things that the Pentagon and the CIA did and tried to do to Castro and
Cuba were acceptable and justifiable.
But they weren’t fine or justifiable. No matter how tyrannical Castro was or how committed to socialism or communism he was, that still did not justify, morally or legally, the repeated attempts by the CIA and Pentagon to murder him and to try to bring about regime change on the island.
The problem is that when it comes to the national security establishment, the mainstream media simply cannot bring themselves to think critically about whatever the CIA and the Pentagon do to “keep us safe” or to protect “national security.” The notion is that whatever they do, including outright murder (or torture or kidnapping), is acceptable and justifiable so long as it’s for “national security.”
For a good example of how these people cannot think clearly when it comes to the national-security state, consider the case of Orlando Letelier, who had served as foreign minister, defense minister, and minister of the interior in the administration of Salvador Allende, the self-avowed communist-socialist physician who had been democratically elected president of Chile. Because he was a communist-socialist, Allende was ousted from power in a violent U.S.-inspired military coup that brought one of the most tyrannical dictators in history into power, Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
On September 21, 1976, Pinochet’s forces assassinated Letelier on the streets of Washington, D.C. The reason? The reason was the same that the CIA used to justify its assassination attempts on Castro: because Letelier, like Castro, was a socialist-communist. That’s why Pinochet’s people believed that it was nothing wrong with assassinating him, just as the CIA has always felt that there was nothing wrong with its attempts to assassinate Castro.
While looking favorably on the CIA’s assassination attempts on Castro, however, the mainstream media’s view on the Letelier assassination is entirely different. They say that the Letelier assassination was murder. And in fact, the people who directly carried out the Letelier car bombing were indicted and prosecuted for murder in federal district courts here in the United States.
Yet, to this date, not one single U.S. official has ever been indicted and prosecuted for conspiracy to assassinate Fidel Castro. That’s because when the U.S. national-security state commits a murder or conspires to commit a murder, it’s not considered a crime. Murder is only when foreign dictators, like Augusto Pinochet, assassinate people.
The warped thinking is also reflected in mainstream descriptions of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The mainstream media accounts point out that Castro permitted the Soviet Union to install “offensive” missiles in Cuba and imply that the installation of those missiles were the cause of the crisis.
What the media fails to point out, however, is that there was one — and only one — reason why Castro wanted those nuclear missiles in Cuba — not to initiate a war against the United States but rather to defend Cuba from another U.S. invasion of Cuba.
This is what all too many Americans just never get: that in the forever crisis with Cuba, the U.S. government has always been the aggressor.
That is, Cuba has never attacked the United States, never imposed an embargo against the United States, never initiated terrorist attacks against the United States, and never assassinated anyone in the United States. Instead, it has always been the U.S. government, led by the Pentagon and the CIA, that has done all those things to Castro and Cuba.
Consider the CIA’s surprise attack at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs. How was it different in principle from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? The U.S. wasn’t at war with Cuba. Congress hadn’t declared war on Cuba, as the Constitution requires as a prerequisite for waging war against other country. Yet, here was the United States undertaking a sneak attack on an independent country, one that had never attacked the United States or shown any interest in attacking the United States.
But none of that matters when it comes to the U.S. national-security establishment. Notwithstanding the clear illegality and the unconstitutionality of the Bay of Pigs invasion, all too many Americans continue to believe that it was somehow morally and legally justified.
After the failed fiasco at the Bay of Pigs, the CIA and the Pentagon didn’t give up. They continued insisting that President Kennedy undertake a full-scale invasion of Cuba for the purpose of regime change. Operation Northwoods comes to mind. It was the infamous plan unanimously recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to undertake terrorist attacks and plane hijackings by undercover U.S. agents posing as Cuban terrorists, to provide the excuse for invading Cuba. To the everlasting credit of President Kennedy, he summarily rejected the plan.
But Castro knew that the Pentagon and the CIA had not given up and that they would never give up. He knew that there was no way that a small third-world nation like Cuba could win a conventional war against the biggest and most powerful army in history. That’s why he wanted those Soviet nuclear missiles — to deter another U.S. invasion of Cuba or to defend against another invasion if it were to come.
In fact, notice something that the mainstream media never points out: Those Soviet nuclear missiles were never fired at the United States. If they were placed there for offensive purposes, wouldn’t you think that they would have been fired? But they weren’t fired. And the reason they weren’t fired was because they were there for defensive purposes — to defend Cuba from an undeclared war of aggression — a war for regime change, just like Iraq many decades later — at the hands of the U.S. national-security state.
In fact, the deal that was reached between Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev confirms the defensive purpose of the missiles. As soon as Kennedy agreed that the U.S. would no longer invade Cuba, the Soviet Union withdrew its missiles. Of course, the Pentagon and the CIA considered Kennedy’s resolution of the crisis to be among the biggest defeats ever suffered by the United States, precisely because it left Castro in power indefinitely, which the CIA and the Pentagon continued to maintained constituted a grave threat to “national security.” (See FFF’s ebook JFK’s War with the National Security Establishment: Why Kennedy Was Assassinated by Douglas Horne; Regime Change: The Kennedy Assassination by Jacob Hornberger; The CIA, Terrorism, and the Cold War: The Evil of the National Security State by Jacob Hornberger; The Kennedy Autopsy by Jacob Hornberger; and CIA & JFK: The Secret Assassination Files by Jefferson Morley.)
Maybe — just maybe — Castro’s passing will induce the American people to begin doing some serious soul-searching on the Cold War era, the role that the U.S. national security state played in inciting and fueling it, and the disastrous effect that both the national-security state and the Cold War have had on American society.
Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.